Writer: Johnny Baguette
Date:Saturday October 11 2008
DON'T LEFT BACK IN ANGER
Well Blues, the statistics show us that City have exchanged what was generally defensive caution under Svennis (except for the odd mitigating factor created implosion) for what looks to be a "we'll score more than you" approach under Mark "Bluesy/Sparky/Leslie" Hughes!
We certainly need to shore up at the back in order to ensure that the terrifically exciting work done up front is not repeatedly undone as it was in the Liverpool throw away last weekend.
We've seen Keystone cops defending in some instances, but a statuesque inability to defend set pieces is the greater concern.
Now I might not be popular for typing this, but I suggest a defensive shake up is in order, certainly in January. Having studied video's of City goals conceded this season, I think Joe Hart needs a break. He's done a phenomenal job between the sticks and will be an England stalwart in the years to come. But, I don't think he is commanding his area or martialling his defence well enough at this stage of the season.
For a concerted push for a trophy to take place in the New Year, I reckon we need a top drawer experienced 'keeper who comes in on the assurance that Joe will take the gloves again when he's learnt more from him. Kasper Schmeichel has potential, but flaps too often and the League Cup defeat at Brighton showed he is nowhere near the prize asset he sees himself as.
Of course, the left back position is City's Achilles heel. Michael Ball all too often let's a game pass him by these days and Javier Garrido, a likeable bloke like Ball, is happy going forwards but frankly brutal going backwards. The sight of Richard Dunne or Micah Richards charging across to clear up for these two has become far too regular for comfort. Again, Bluesy has to move for a first class left back as soon as possible.
Micah Richards is still a man mountain for us but hasn't quite fired as we know he can in recent games. His partnership with the also not quite so steady Richard Dunne has been under the spotlight with many Blues for a while now and I for one would have liked to see Micah moved out to overlapping with SWP on the right but the arrival of the promising Pablo Zabaleta seems to have put paid to that.
So in conclusion, in the short term we know that Glauber Berti, yet to make his debut for The Blues can play left back. He has to be worth a run out. Outside of Tal Ben-Haim filling in where required or given an extended run, and Nedum Onouha and Shaleum Logan's continued absences, there aren't that many options available to the manager. However, the whole team need to work hard at defending as a team, protecting our defence and containing teams. But beyond that, I cite the signing of an experienced goalkeeper and a left back as January priorities, failing a dramatic upturn in defensive form.
LET BATTLE COMMENCE: CITY TAKE ON FORTRESS EUROPE
This fortnight's break has given us the opportunity to set aside our disappointing league position and focus on our upcoming bizarrely organised UEFA Cup Group Stage campaign. What a marathon this competition is proving to be, packed with more than decent sides. Glasgow Strangers deserved some sort of a cup for reaching the final last season having played 19 games to get there!
With the fixtures and kick off times now confirmed, let's take a look at who we have to get past in order to make the last 32!
FC Twente @ The City of Manchester Stadium
Thursday, 6th November @ 1945 GMT.
Current Eredivisie Position: 8th out of 18
Steve McClueless returns to Manchester having now taken up the reigns at FC Twente following his pisspoor leadership of England. Having finshed 4th in the Eredivisie last season, Twente are in the UEFA Cup this season because they were thrashed out of the Champions League by Arsenal in the summer. City must contain their talisman and captain, Swiss centre forward Blaise Kufo who is their leading goal scorer over the past 5 seasons. If this game can generate a packed Eastlands, then I see no reason why The Blues can't see Twente off. They are hardly pulling up trees so far this season.
Schalke 04 @ The Veltins-Arena
Thursday 27th November @ 1800 GMT.
Current Bundesliga Position: 5th out of 18
This has to be the toughest fixture of the group. Schalke are an uncompromising side and backed by their packed, superb stadium will be a real force to be reckoned with. Ironically enough, their new Head Coach, Fred Rutton was McClueless' predecessor at FC Twente! Schalke ended last season in 3rd place and find themselves in the UEFA Cup having themselves been knocked out of the Champions League by Atletico Madrid.
Paris Saint-Germain @ The City of Manchester Stadium
Wednesday, 3rd December @ 1945 GMT
Current Ligue 1 Position: 11th out of 20
PSG escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and led by the far from confidence inspiring Paul Le Guen have started to nosedive again after a bright start to the current campaign. Their backdrop for many years has been one of boardroom unrest. That said, they have a big squad that includes the like of experienced journeymen like Ludovic Giuly and Claude MakÚlÚlÚ who is picking up bookings regularly. They'll be no pushover as no team seems to be in this competition, but City must beat the likes of PSG convincingly if we are to progress. One factor to bear in mind for the night is to watch out for some of their supporters. They have a big far-right white nationalist contingent that increasingly clash with their own multi-ethnic fans. Manchester Coppers, you have been warned.
Racing Santander @ The Estadio El Sardinero,
Thursday, 18th December @ 1945 GMT
Current La Liga Position: 14th out of 20
Racing finished 6th in La Liga last season and seem a steady side, yet just about the weakest on paper of the group. However, like all the sides City have faced so far in this campaign, they cannot be underestimated. Santander is a difficult place to go as the Vital MC archives proved with one of our Forum's teaser questions this week! The last Blue (maybe the first?)to play there was flying winger David White in his one and only England appearance in a friendly there in 1992. Whitey had been on fire at the time but when clear on goal missed an absolute sitter, consequently never playing for England again. Here's to that particular MCFC ghost being laid to rest as City set up a great Euro inspired Christmas for us all!
LISTEN UP ROUND UP
The kick off time of City's away game against Fulham has now changed to 12.45pm on Saturday December 6th after the fixture was selected for live broadcast by Sky.
Likewise, the home fixture against Spurs will now kick off at 3.00pm on Sunday November 9th.
Traditional Roy Race/ Hotshot Hamish Saturday 3pm kick offs? How about a new fanzine: 'When Saturday Doesn't Come.'
Independent City Fan Site Editor and Supporters groups nemesis Paul Tyrell has now left his position of 'Minister for Information' at SportCity.
The garish Orange er, 'Blaze' Luton, sorry City limited addition third kit is apparently selling well. In a marketing development, City have announced that they will ditch our classic Europe conquering red and black stripes in favour of the latest 'It's just not City' strip for both the club's away UEFA Group games. This correspondent for one isn't happy with this identity shredding episode.
WE WEREN'T REALLY THERE? THE FINAL SCORE THIS WEEK 10 YEARS AGO
Man City 0 - 1 Preston (Parkinson 71 pen) At Maine Road on 12-10-1998 Att: 28,779
Weaver, Edghill ,Horlock (Tiatto,65), Fenton, Wiekens, Vaughan , Whitley, Brown, Goater, Dickov (Allsopp,65), Bradbury
Subs not used: Crooks
WHAT'S IN A WORD - WHAT THEY SAID THIS WEEK
'As I understand it, it's permanent that City will not release me but I hope not. I will do everything I can again in January to get away. I'd love to be loaned out but the club will not go along with that.'
- City's far from finished goalkeeping article Kasper Schmeichel goes to the press yet again proclaiming his worth.
'At no time has any Manchester City official, or anybody representing the club, contacted Fernando Torres, his representatives or Liverpool Football Club.'
- City Communications move swiftly again to dismiss the latest hack nonsense.
'Paris is a city that I love and they have a great project to win the league title. However, at (Manchester) City I have Robinho, who is a great friend of mine. But we will see, in the past few days we have spoken.'
- RonLardo just won't let it lie, continuing to talk himself up as a coveted target.
'I think what's killing us at the moment is the fact that there are a lot of games and people are starting to get tired already.'
- Good grief. Micah Richards reveals why our defence is hardly pulling up trees right now.
'Something has to be done about these billionaire owners.'
- Sepp Twatter starts to gob off where he failed to do so after the rags and Cheslki takeovers.
'If you bring people from Qatar and there is no-one from Liverpool or Manchester at the club, where is Liverpool or Manchester? Can we do something against it? I will try to. Do you want in Liverpool an Arab sheikh as president with one Brazilian coach and nine or 11 African players?'
- Panic sets in at FIFA as Michel Twatini wades in. Totally ignorant of City, and dare I say it, the rags clear commitment to promoting homegrown Academy players.
Newcastle United at Sid James' Park:
Monday, 13th October 2008 at 2000 GMT+1
FA Premier League
This will be no easy task as The Barcodes will have been worked on for another couple of weeks by sweary Joe Kin`ell. We can expect the potty mouthed rabble rouser to have them fired up in a bid to build upon their point at Everton. Match prediction next week.
What's your take on City's defensive frailty? Will we 'terrorise the cowards of Europe?*' Are Sepp Twatter and Michel Twatini talking bollocks? Give us your views in the Vital Man City Forums!
*Copyright the great Malcolm Allison
Date:Saturday October 11 2008
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